Ismaili Muslims Celebrate The Birthday Of His Highness The Aga Khan On December 13th


On December 13th Ismaili Muslims all over the world celebrate the birthday of His Highness the Aga Khan.  We join in their rejoicing and wish His Highness and his followers “Salgirah Mubarak”.

His Highness the Aga Khan became Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. He is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter.

The Aga Khan spent his early childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, and then attended Le Rosey School in Switzerland for nine years. He graduated from Harvard University in 1959 with a BA Honors Degree in Islamic history.

Like his grandfather Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan before him, the Aga Khan has, since assuming the office of Imamat in 1957, been concerned about the well-being of all Muslims, particularly in the face of the challenges of rapid historical changes. Today, the Ismailis live in some 25 countries, mainly in West and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as in North America and Western Europe.

On November 12, 2015, His Highness the Aga Khan delivered the Samuel L. and Elizabeth Jodidi Lecture at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Entitled “The Cosmopolitan Ethic in a Fragmented World”, his lecture covered the challenges to pluralism and cosmopolitanism.

His Highness highlighted that the success of societies and cultures is dependent not only on honoring our similarities but also honoring our differences and said that “a pluralist, cosmopolitan society is a society which not only accepts difference, but actively seeks to understand it – and to learn from it. In this perspective, diversity is not a burden to be endured, but an opportunity to be welcomed.”

His Highness the Aga Khan has established a number of institutions in Canada. The Ismaili Centre Toronto and Aga Khan Museum were formally opened in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan on September 12, 2014. The two buildings are situated within a 6.8-hectare landscaped park. Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki designed the Aga Khan Museum, while Indian architect Charles Correa designed the Ismaili Centre. The park, which features a formal garden, was designed by architect Vladimir Djurovic of Lebanon.

The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in North America dedicated to the arts of Muslim civilizations.It is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.

The Ismaili Centre Torontois part of a network of Ismaili Centres that includes Vancouver, London, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe.The Ismaili Centres incorporate spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement, and spiritual reflection.

The establishment of these institutions in Canada reflects the Aga Khan’s longstanding relationship with Canada and his appreciation for the country’s commitment to pluralism and cultural diversity.Together, these global institutions will contribute to a better understanding among different communities and cultures.

We rejoice in celebrating the happy occasion of His Highness’ birthday alongside his followers in Canada and all over the world and wish them all “Salgirah Mubarak”.